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With its superb handling, impressive fuel economy, and subdued yet handsome styling, it’s no wonder the Volkswagen Jetta remains as one of the German automaker’s most popular models. But as dependable as the Jetta is, it’s no stranger to issues caused by worn-out or damaged parts that may affect its ride quality and performance.

Are Volkswagen Jettas Reliable?

The Volkswagen Jetta has received above-average scores on all major reliability ratings. RepairPal gives the sedan a 4.0 out of 5.0, ranking it 21 out of 36 compact cars.

The Jetta has average ownership costs with annual maintenance and repair fees amounting to $609 compared to the usual $652 for most vehicle models. The frequency of unscheduled repairs for this model is 0.3 with a 10% probability of being a major issue compared to an average of 11% for compact cars.

Top Volkswagen Jetta Problems

Just like any other vehicle, the Volkswagen Jetta has its fair share of problems. Here are some of the most common ones:

Body Problems

Chipping paint and a squeaking door are commonly reported 2017 Volkswagen Jetta problems. Some owners report one of the doors producing squeaking noises even after replacing the door hinge multiple times. Paint on the Jetta’s hood may also chip easily.

Harsh Shifting on Automatic Transmission Jettas

Shifting problems have been a common issue in many 1990-2012 and 2016 Jettas. Drivers report that their vehicles jerk when shifting from second to third gear, as well as suffer from a slipping transmission while moving at 35-50 miles an hour. The problem may persist even after replacing the valve body multiple times, which prompted some drivers to replace their entire transmission.

Window Regulator Failure

2011 2012 Volkswagen Jetta
Drivers of many 1993-2014 and 2016-2017 Jettas have had problems with their power windows getting stuck due to a faulty window regulator. Image source: Wikimedia.

Drivers of many 1993-2014 and 2016-2017 Jettas have had several issues with their power windows getting stuck due to a faulty window regulator. While some needed to repair only one malfunctioning window, others have had to deal with two or more. A replacement window regulator can range anywhere between $100 and $200 plus labor costs.

Unusual Odor from HVAC Vents

Bad odor has been a common issue found in many 1993, 2003, and 2005-2017 Jetta redesigns. Many owners report a musty odor coming out of the HVAC system after sitting in the vehicle for at least two hours. Experts recommend using a cleaner for the heater case and having the drain system checked for debris.

Electrical Issues

1990-2014 Volkswagen Jettas have had their fair share of electrical issues, such as intermittent door locks, defective wipers, a malfunctioning cruise control system, and faulty heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) settings.

Contaminated Air Bag Clock Spring

The 2012 Volkswagen Jetta has had a couple of problems with its air bag clock spring. In 2015, the German automaker recalled 2010-2014 Jettas along with other models like the CC, Passat, Golf, GTI, Tiguan, and Sportwagen due to a contaminated air bag clock spring. Debris in the clock spring may tear the cable, resulting in a loss of electrical connection to the driver’s frontal airbag.

ABS Module Failure

2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagon Wikimedia
2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagon. Image source: Wikimedia.

There have been several reports of anti-lock braking system (ABS) module failure in many 2009 Jetta redesigns. Owners report experiencing steering difficulties, slow acceleration, beeping noises, erratic fuel gauge readings, and a malfunctioning speedometer caused by a faulty ABS module. Some owners of this model year also report instances of rear-ending another vehicle because the ABS malfunctioned.

In 2016, the German automaker issued a recall for 2009-2010 Jettas because of this issue, as it could lead to loss of vehicle control. Volkswagen updated the ABS control module software to upgrade its self-testing abilities for improved vehicle safety.

Coolant and Oil Leaks

A faulty water pump and valve cover gasket have been common reasons for coolant and engine oil to leak from several 1990-2008 Volkswagen Jetta redesigns (excluding the 1996 model year). Many owners report coolant pouring out from the bottom of the engine near the passenger side, as well as hissing sounds from under the hood. An aftermarket water pump for the Jetta can cost anywhere between $50 and $200, while a valve cover gasket can range from $50 to $150 plus labor costs.

Clutch Failure

Many 2005 Volkswagen Jettas require repairs due to a faulty clutch. Affected owners report having trouble engaging the gears due to a stuck clutch pedal. Many owners also noticed a burning smell from under the hood even though their vehicles were brand new. Clutch repair kits for the Jetta can cost anywhere between $500 and $1,500 plus labor costs.

Engine Misfires

Many 1996-2002, 2004-2006, and 2008-2014 Jetta models have had misfiring engines caused by ignition coil, spark plug, and ignition wire failure. Owners of the affected models report loss of engine power, an illuminated check engine light, and blue smoke coming out of the exhaust. Their engines may also sputter and shake upon acceleration.

Transmission Damage

Reports of a faulty transmission oil cooler that allow coolant to mix with the transmission fluid are common in some 1990-1992, 2000-2002, 2006, 2008, and 2015 Jetta models. This problem may dilute the oil that lubricates the engine’s metal parts and cause the transmission to seize up.

Reverse Gear Issues With Manual Transmission Jettas

Drivers of many 1990-2015 manual transmission Jettas have had problems shifting their vehicles into reverse gear. Owners of the affected models report the gearshift going in about halfway before the gears would start grinding. Some needed to pump the clutch multiple times before being able to shift into reverse while others had to put the gear back to neutral for the gear to kick in.

Keep in mind that driving a Jetta won’t come without problems as it racks up mileage. Over time, issues are bound to arise and affect its drivability. This is why it’s important to familiarize yourself with its most common issues to know what repairs your vehicle may need in the future.

About The Authors
Lisa Conant, Automotive Features Reviewer at
Lisa Conant

Automotive Features Reviewer at

Lisa Conant grew up in Canada around a solid contingency of gear heads and DIY motor enthusiasts. She is an eclectic writer with a varied repertoire in the automotive industry, including research pieces with a focus on daily drivers and recreational vehicles. Lisa has written for Car Bibles and The Drive.

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The Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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My 2019 jetta highline started to knock then oil pressure light came on sprayed a tremendous amount of oil


My Jetta is making a scraping noise in the back of my car when I drove slow what could be the problem?


Ask your mechanic to check if you need new brake pads 🙂 When they become so low that they start making contact with the rotor, you can hear that ‘scraping’ noise at low speed.

I’m not a mechanic, but this sounds really familiar, as I experienced it in my Mitsubishi Lancer, and it ended up being very worn brake pads.

Good luck!

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